Students at George Jay Elementary will no longer have a music room as of this September. (File contributed/ Fernwood NRG)

Loss of music room at George Jay Elementary School hits sour note with PAC

Starting in September 2019 the music room will be converted into a classroom

Some members of the Parent Advisory Council (PAC) at George Jay Elementary School are angered by the loss of the school’s music room.

At the end of June, the school was told that the beloved music room would be converted into a classroom in September to help accommodate new catchment changes and increasing enrolment levels.

This, said PAC president Angela Cooper-Carmichael, presents a big problem about transparency.

“We were told that the music room would be spared and that we’d get a portable,” Cooper-Carmichael said. “But we got neither.”

Instead, the Greater Victoria School District (SD61) will be installing a $20,000 outdoor learning space and “self-regulation circuit.” This will consist of a covered outdoor area, with the addition of several exercises stenciled onto concrete areas around the school. Cooper-Carmichael said this is unnecessary since the school already has an outdoor learning space.

“We don’t need another one, we already have one and it doesn’t work for everyone,” Cooper-Carmichael said. “For anyone with behavioural issues, they’re not going to sit on a stump, they’re going to throw rocks.”

ALSO READ: Greater Victoria School District’s new catchment boundaries eliminate ‘programs of choice

Furthermore, Cooper-Carmichael said, not having a spare room leaves kids with learning disabilities stranded.

“If a child has an outburst or is autistic there’s nowhere for an EA [education assistant] to take them to de-escalate,” she said.

The PAC has reached out to SD61 for comment about the change in plans, but so far has not heard back.

During in-person meetings with SD61 board members Cooper-Carmichael asked why the idea of a portable was dismissed, and was reportedly told that the board was having problems getting the correct permits from the City of Victoria.

Cooper-Carmichael reached out to the City to see what the issue was.

“I was assured that no permit for a portable had been applied for or denied,” she said.

Black Press also reached out to the City to see if a permit had been put forward, and were also told that no application was put forward.

Specific members of the school board were not available for comment on the issue, but Lisa McPhail, SD61 communications and community engagement, was able to confirm that a portable had been a considered before the outdoor space was chosen as the best option.

McPhail could not confirm whether anyone from the board made comments about permit issues with Cooper-Carmichael or not.

ALSO READ: More portables coming to West Shore schools

“The School District has had many conversations with George Jay’s staff and school community in regards to its rapid growth, space pressures and available options,” McPhail said.

“The District recognizes that in the short term, the change from having music in a specialized space is not ideal. It also knows that the staff are very excited about having the new outdoor learning space and circuit for September. This space will complement and support the excellent teaching and learning happening at George Jay for many years to come.”

The music teacher at the school will retain her position, and will work on a mobile basis between classrooms.

Still, the lack of transparency on the decision, said Cooper-Carmichael, puts students at risk.

“These are the most at-risk children in the city, approximately 74 per cent come from community housing,” she said. “They’re the ones losing their music program. Why is it that the poor kids are getting shafted?”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

Just Posted

Greater Victoria teacher’s certification suspended for inappropriate conduct with female students

Gregory Garos was employed by the District as a middle school teacher

‘Goodness prevails’: Neighbours reflect following suspicious death of 60-year-old Metchosin man

Martin Payne was found dead in his Metchosin home on Friday, police have confirmed foul play

Saanich councillor questions effectiveness of free transit passes for youth

Coun. Judy Brownoff said efforts should focus on improving service levels

Victoria’s historic Point Ellice House re-opens after months of closure

A new exhibit will be on display at the house to explore the ‘Politics of Luxury’

Saanich pee wee lacross team takes home the gold at Provincials again

The Saanich Tigers clawed their way to first place at the Provincial championship in Delta

Rents in most Canadian cities are unaffordable for lower-income earners: study

Roughly one-third of households, or 4.7 million, are renters

POLL: Do you carry reusable shopping bags?

While a court ruling determined the City of Victoria’s plastic bag ban… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of July 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

B.C. government seeks advice on reviving Interior forest industry

Public website opens as meetings start with community leaders

Film features Chez Monique, an off-the-grid restaurant on West Coast Trail in B.C.

“The story we are trying to share is of the loving haven they created and sustained for decades.”

Psychics, drones being used to search for missing Chilliwack woman with dementia

Drones, psychics, dogs and more have been employed to help find Grace Baranyk, 86

Scheer on Trump: It’s ‘offensive’ to question the family background of critics

Trump is being called a racist for saying that the four congresswomen should go back where they came from

Instagram expands Canadian pilot removing ‘like’ counts to more countries

Social media giant plans to roll out the test in Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Japan, Italy and Ireland

Man involved in beating and tasering over a drug debt to be sentenced in Nanaimo

Colin Damen Gary Lamontagne pleaded guilty to charges, including aggravated assault

Most Read